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Republicans Eye Ryan's Spot on Budget Panel

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Scott Garrett (above), vice chairman of the Budget Committee, expressed interest in taking over as chairman if Rep. Paul Ryan becomes vice president.

With the House GOP's shining superstar Rep. Paul Ryan now on the presidential ticket, a crowded field is emerging to replace the Wisconsinite as the top Republican on the Budget Committee.

The committee's vice chairman, Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.), and Rep. John Campbell (Calif.), a senior member of the panel, expressed interest Wednesday in replacing Ryan if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins in November.

"Yes, that's something I'd be interested in," Campbell said. "The big if, of course, is that Romney and Ryan have to be elected. But it's something I'm taking a look at, something I have interest in."

Garrett, who was a leader of the conservative charge to lower the budget spending level below the number set in the Budget Control Act, said he has his eye on the gavel, too.

"It's certainly interesting. It would be interesting," he said. "That, of course, just popped up in the last few weeks. Right now we're just focusing on what we're doing here."

Adding to a crowded field, however, Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) is considering also making a play for the gavel, a senior GOP aide said. And the committee is packed with a less senior but extremely ambitious cast of characters, making it hard to predict whom the Republican Steering Committee would choose for the appointed position.

Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) has a slot on the committee, but aides said he is more interested in becoming chairman of the Financial Services Committee, of which he is the vice chairman.

Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.), a Budget Committee member, is also thought to have higher ambitions, but most of those are focused  for the time being on succeeding
Hensarling as Conference chairman.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, another ambitious lawmaker, also sits on the panel. He has become a key surrogate for Romney and as a young, charismatic GOP up-and-comer, he could fit the Ryan mold as chairman, if he chooses to make a play for the role.

"I suspect Chaffetz wouldn't mind moving up," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a senior member of the committee. "I suspect there will be a race."

It's no surprise that the post is gaining so much interest: What was a longtime
B-level committee has become a launching pad for many political stars.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and former Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle all held the gavel at one point.

With the budget sure to be a major battle next year no matter who wins the presidency, the role would allow Members to have an outsized influence on lowering government spending.

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